Choosing the Right Plan: How to Pick the Best Health Insurance Plan : Not having health insurance is stressful. Every little sniffle sets off a chain of worry about what you’ll do if you get the flu, and driving can become a gauntlet of trying to avoid bankruptcy thanks to hospital bills. But choosing a healthcare plan can be just as intimidating.
Knowing how to pick the best insurance plan for you takes skill and patience. Read on to learn how to find a plan that will cover your needs and keep you healthy.
Figure Out Enrollment
The first step to choosing the right insurance plan for you is figuring out when and how you need to enroll. Depending on where you live, you may be able to use the federal exchanges or your state’s marketplace to shop for insurance. But each of these markets will have certain times of the year when enrollment is open.
On the federal exchange, open enrollment runs from November 1 to December 15. Coverage for the plans you enroll in during that period will begin on January 1 of the next year. State marketplace enrollment periods will vary depending on where you live, so be sure to research the open enrollment period for your state.
Review Plan Options
Once you’ve figured out when you need to buy health insurance, the next step is to start reviewing different plan options. Even if you like the insurance you currently have, it’s always a good idea to shop around. Health insurance is always changing, and a different plan may have a lower deductible or premium or may cover a specific doctor or medication you need.
When you’re shopping, be sure to look at all the different options available to you. You might be able to get a high-deductible plan that combines with a health savings account, or you might be better off with only accident and injury insurance. Also, be sure to shop both federal and private health insurance options and learn more about short-term health insurance options.
Compare Yearly Costs
Many people focus only on the monthly premiums health insurance plans charge when they’re shopping around. And while this will have the most direct impact on your day-to-day life, it’s also important to look at your yearly costs. Overall, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars by choosing a plan with a slightly higher monthly premium.
Most health insurance markets will have a tool to help you estimate your overall yearly costs with a plan. This will depend on things like how much healthcare you use and how many co-pays you’re eligible for. Use those yearly cost estimate tools to figure out which plan will keep your overall annual costs the lowest.
Think About How Much Healthcare You Use
It is also important when picking a plan to think about how much healthcare you use. No one can ever really predict what might happen to them in a year, but aside from accidents or surprise diagnoses, you should be able to generally gauge how healthy you are. This can help you choose the most cost-effective plan for you.
If you’re generally in good health and are fairly young, it might be reasonable to choose a lower-premium, higher-deductible plan. But if you’re getting older or have some sort of a chronic diagnosis (or expect that you might in the next year), it may be a good idea to get a plan with a slightly higher premium and a lower deductible. Yes, you’ll pay more month-to-month, but you’ll save a lot of money in out-of-pocket costs before you hit your deductible.
Take Things with a Grain of Salt
Healthcare is a vulnerable topic for many people, and unfortunately, there are people out there who want to take advantage of that worry. Scam artists will put up health insurance plans that claim to be low-premium low-deductible. And in some cases, these plans will offer legitimate coverage.
But in many, many cases, if these plans do offer any coverage at all, it’s so limited as to be unusable. And thanks to advances in technology, it can be very hard to spot these fake plans from the real ones. In general, if a plan seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Ask for Help
The health insurance market is confusing, to say the least. Even doctors and those experienced working with the health insurance market can make mistakes sometimes. So don’t be afraid to ask for help choosing the right plan for you and your family.
The Trump administration has slashed funding for open enrollment assistance programs, but these programs do still exist. Search for a health insurance navigator or a certified application counselor in your area. Try to meet with this person face-to-face so they can get a better read on your situation and help you choose the best plan for you.
Check Specific Benefits
Once you have a plan you think you like, it’s always a good idea to check on specific benefits that are important to you. For instance, you may be on a certain type of birth control that you have to use a certain brand of. But some insurance plans may not cover that specific brand, even if you have a prescription from your doctor for that brand.
Always check on specific medications you’re on and make sure you can continue with them on your new insurance plan. You should also talk to any doctors who you need to continue to see and make sure they will accept your new insurance plan.
Learn How to Pick the Best Health Insurance Plan
Learning how to pick the best health insurance plan for you is a tricky process that involves a number of factors. Be patient, take your time, and look closely at all the options available to you. You should also talk to a professional if possible and make sure you’re choosing the plan that will work best for you and your budget.
If you’d like to learn more about staying healthy, check out the rest of our site. We have content covering everything from diet and nutrition to love and sex. Check out our health and wellbeing articles for more awesome tips on taking care of your body.
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